First lines of 2013

Welcome, dear Reader, as you plunge valiantly into the thrilling pages of our melodrama, where you will find adventures that will test your spirit and possibly your sanity!

Visiting the spirit world was never easy.

My hands are dying.

Gaia notched her arrow and drew back the taut string of her bow.”

When he emerges from the bathroom she is awake, propped up against the pillows and flicking through the travel brochures that were beside his bed.

If you are holding this book in your hands, you are one of the chosen.

Last summer I happened to be crossing the plains of Iowa in a season of intense heat, and it was my good fortune to have for a traveling companion James Quayle Burden – Jim Burden, as we still call him in the West.

It’s never easy, returning home after failing to make one’s way out in the world.

The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living.

He is flying.

It was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon.

“Don’t move, and don’t scream too loud, no matter what you see,” Juliet told Rob and me.

The streets of Seville are the size of sidewalks, and there are alleys leaking off from the streets.

Look at me: I don’t want my therapist to think I’m crazy.

It was raining again.

Mrs. Agatha Raisin sat behind her newly cleared desk in her office in South Molton Street in London’s Mayfair.

Benny Imura couldn’t hold a job, so he took to killing.

“Wait,” I say, my heart clenching.

Today I shocked the lawyers, and it surprised me, the effect I could have on them.

Lloyd shoves off the bedcovers and hurries to the front door in white underwear and black socks.

Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file.

The doctor was young.

Oskar had never been afraid of falling.

London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall.

Agatha Raisin arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport with a tan outside and a blush of shame inside.

Benjamin was a genuine Christmas gift, albeit one that took nearly forty hours to unwrap.

I stare at my gravestone.

In shirt-sleeves, the way I generally worked, I sat sketching a bar of soap taped to an upper corner of my drawing board.

Dear Reader: It is a terrible thing to see a man hang.

Agatha Raisin watched the sunlight on the wall of her office in the City of London.

The temple of Angkor Wat had been designed to house the Hindu Gods but looked as if it had been built by them.

It began with a sobbing phone call from my daughter, the kind of call every parent dreads.

Some people run toward life, arms flung wide in anticipation.

Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, edged the long-bonnetted Rover out of the car park.

The scene in the Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the Commons, is being described as “grim” by investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning.

“Honestly, Holmes! Pirates?”

I was six years old the first time I disappeared.

My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years.

To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

I am eleven years old, and I am invisible.

“Dol? Are you okay?”

“Answer me this: why would anyone want to wear an overcoat in San Francisco in the middle of summer?”

The old woman’s hand trembled as she clutched her teacup.

The sun sank behind the trees, and the blue-black shadows of the forest encroached farther down the sloping beach.

Gabriel Luna has a Daily News rolled up in his back pocket.

I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what it was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavor you could think of, hard candy by the quarter pound, moon pies and crackerjack and other things I hadn’t thought about tasting in years.

There was nothing left to say.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Costain entered the service station and stopped when he saw Quill standing there, not even pretending to look at the chocolate bars displayed in front of him.

Now I believe they will leave me alone.

Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York.

Kate didn’t like Mrs. Ferrers.

The big man had the brains of a tortoise, but even he was beginning to look alarmed.

A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as she entered the cafe.

Violet Epps stood before the maitre d’ in the lobby lounge of the Algonquin Hotel, waiting to be noticed.

The letter that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday.

The day Paxton Osgood took the box of heavy-stock, foil-lined envelopes to the post office, the ones she’d had a professional calligrapher address, it began to rain so hard the air turned as white as bleached cotton.

We were going out to dinner.

They said the typewriter would unsex us.

I woke, as it seemed, from a nightmare of being stretched on the rack, only to sink into another dream in which I was lying in a strange bed, afraid to open my eyes for fear of what I might see.

There will be no awakening.

On Thanksgiving Day 1942, at a secret U.S. Army base on the ice-covered island of Greenland, a telegraph receiver clattered to life: “Situation grave. A very sick man. Hurry.”

If you are white, are a girl or boy between the ages of nine and twelve, and, according to a certain committee of mothers, are good enough to associate with Charleston’s other good girls and boys, then Wednesday night is a busy night for you.

Marissa could not be comforted, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve started dreaming of Portland again.

I was already wide awake when they came for me.

The sky was blue.

Voices from the dining room echo up the walnut staircase, indistinct, buzzing, intrusive.

Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors?

It began with the hands.

The dying actress arrived in his village the only way one could come directly – in a boat that motored into the cove, lurched past the rock jetty, and bumped against the end of the pier.

I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions.

“You there! Come here!”

The Save Venice fund-raiser began as these things do, with Bellinis, with tiny toast points topped with squid pate, and with swaying musicians playing the greatest hits of Italian opera beneath a fresco by Tiepolo.

Outside, the technicolor sunset is giving way to the silvery sweep of searchlights over distant Cardiff as a hand tugs the blackout curtain across the sky.

Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn’t have been and I almost caused a riot.

It’s early September.

Something didn’t feel right.

It is dark.

Run an internet search using the name Deanna Ward.

I think some small part of me knew I was living an unsustainable life.

Fin’s funeral suit was a year old, worn three times, already too small.

I typed the inaugural newsletter of the Columbia Comic Book Club on my mother’s 1960 Smith Corona, modeling it on the monthly “Stan’s Soapbox” pages through which Stan Lee created and sustained the idea of Marvel Comics fandom in the sixties and early seventies.

A large chandelier showered golden light on the crowd as I surveyed the party in the bronze mirror over the mantel.

My darling daughter, Know that I never would have left the earth if it hadn’t already been doomed.

He was not sure exactly when he became a child of the forest.

Lumbers into class five minutes late, dragging, along with her yard-wide butt, a beat-up vinyl briefcase stuffed with old notebooks.

Palms to the glass, watching the lot from his office window, Miles Bradford saw her topple.

The small boys came early to the hanging.

Zolfina could tell that the gorgio girl’s life was ebbing away on a crimson tide.

The education bestowed on Flora Poste by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged; and when they died within a few weeks of one another during the annual epidemic of the influenza or Spanish Plague which occurred in her twentieth year, she was discovered to possess every art and grace save that of earning her own living.

William Eng woke to the sound of a snapping leather belt and the shrieking of rusty springs that supported the threadbare mattress of his army surplus bed.

I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult.

I was raised in a brick dormitory at Dewing College, formerly Mary-Ruth Dewing Academy, a finishing school best known for turning out attractive secretaries who married up.

The little girl’s hair caught fire.

The day she gets out, it feels like the end.

Sarah Glazer raised the binoculars to her eyes and followed the movements of the young man and his dog walking down the street.

There was a boy in her room.

Though Robin Ellacott’s twenty-five years of life had seen their moments of drama and incident, she had never before woken up in the certain knowledge that she would remember the coming day for as long as she lived.

August 17, 2015: Time stamp 15:06. [The recording is crisp enough to look like a Hollywood film, too polished to be real…]

Afterwards, she would find herself unable to describe the old man with whom they shared the elevator, other than a lascivious smile, as if he knew.

The first earthquake wasn’t the strongest – that would come later, in February 1812 – but it must have been the most astonishing.

It was all because of the Berlin Wall.

On rocky islands gulls woke.

If you were to believe my father – and many people do – you would believe that there is no such thing as coincidence.

This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve.

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.

If anyone found her here, she’d be fired.

The prank Mason Stark pulled on his sister was doomed from the beginning.

Small things: straws on camels’ backs.

Two dead men changed the course of my life that fall.

Mr. Logiudice: State your name, please.

Let us begin with two girls at a dance.

How angry am I?

The Hudson River lay flat and black like a lost evening glove.

My father was a man who believed history repeated itself.

In a town house at a fashionable address on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, every lamp blazes.

They were both working their final shift at Blackjack Pizza that night, although nobody but the two of them realized it was that.

I was a paperboy.

Eamon throws his axe into the ice above his head.

The sound of her name, in that deep familiar timbre, swept through Audra like a winter gale.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

The warning was short – said almost in passing.

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12 Responses to First lines of 2013

  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    Love, love, love this post! I’ve had so much fun reading the first lines and then stringing them together to make a paragraph.

  2. Kailana says:

    What a great idea! I now want to try and remember to make note of the first lines in 2014. 🙂

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kelly – it isn’t too hard if you keep track as you go. I always list the first line in my reviews.

  3. Michelle says:

    This is so cool. You make me want to try this for next year!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Michelle – it’s fun to look back at those first lines and see which are the most memorable.

  4. irene says:

    What a fun post.

  5. Anna says:

    What a neat idea!

  6. I love that you do this, Carrie. I think I want to try it for this year, if you don’t mind. 🙂

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Wendy – not at all – I look forward to reading yours! I love first lines. It is fun to look at the diversity – you can tell that some authors really take time to craft the perfect, attention-getting first line, while others see it as only a way to get to sentence two.